Archives de catégorie : biology+acidification

Past global photosynthesis reacted quickly to more carbon in the air

by University of Copenhagen, Mar 10, 2022 in ScienceDaily

Ice cores allow climate researchers to look 800,000 years back in time: atmospheric carbon acts as fertilizer, increasing biological production. The mechanism removes carbon from the air and thereby dampens the acceleration in global warming.

Even under ice age conditions will plants, plankton, and other life forms be able to increase production whenever atmospheric carbon concentrations rise. The mechanism will not prevent an ongoing trend of global warming, but at least dampen the acceleration. This conclusion stems from an international collaboration involving the Physics of Ice Climate Earth (PICE) center of Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen.

“Global biosphere production through photosynthesis is the strongest absorbing flux of atmospheric carbon dioxide. It is therefore essential to understand its natural variability for a better projection of the future carbon cycle,” says Postdoc researcher Ji-Woong Yang, PICE, continuing:

“Nowadays, as we have Earth observation satellites and other advanced equipment, the mechanism of carbon fertilization is well established. However, we were not sure that the same mechanism existed in past periods where the climate was very different and atmospheric carbon concentrations much lower. The new results confirm the existence of the strong correlation and allow us to model future developments with more confidence.”

Eight glacial cycles are covered

In collaboration with Laboratoire des Science du Climat et de l’Environnement, France, the PICE team has studied the ancient air trapped inside tiny air bubbles in an Antarctic ice core. The ice core represents the last 800,000 years of climatic development.

The scientists take advantage of the fact that the oxygen atom does not only exist in the most common form 16O with 8 protons and 8 neutrons but also as the isotopes 17O and 18O. The isotopic composition is a tracer for biosphere productivity. Uniquely, the method will show the global level of biological production in contrast to other methods which give more localized results.

Combining the air bubble measurements with modeling of oxygen behavior in both the biosphere and the stratosphere, the researchers were able to quantify the biosphere productivity evolution under both glacial periods (ice ages) and interglacial periods. In total, eight glacial cycles were covered.

“The results clearly demonstrate that productivity drops during glacial periods and increases during interglacial periods. Further, a strong correlation exists with past atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations measured from multiple ice cores. In addition, the effect is more prominent during glacial periods where the level of carbon dioxide and the global biosphere productivity start to increase several thousand years before the ice caps begin to melt. This correlation is explained by the strong fertilization effect by atmospheric carbon dioxide,” says Ji-Woong Yang.

The Decline Effect – Part 2: How Does This Happen?

by K. Hansen, Feb 29, 2022 in WUWT

What exactly is the decline effect?  Is it the fact that certain scientifically discovered effects decline over time the more they are studied and researched? Almost, but not really.  The Wiki has this definition for us:

“The decline effect may occur when scientific claims receive decreasing support over time. The term was first described by parapsychologist Joseph Banks Rhine in the 1930s to describe the disappearing of extrasensory perception (ESP) of psychic experiments conducted by Rhine over the course of study or time. In its more general term, Cronbach, in his review article of science “Beyond the two disciplines of scientific psychology” [ also .pdf here ] referred to the phenomenon as “generalizations decay.”[1] The term was once again used in a 2010 article by Jonah Lehrer published in The New Yorker.”

Some hold that the decline effect is not just a decrease of support over time but rather that it refers to a decrease in effect size over time – or, according to some, both because of one or the other.  That is, the support decreases because the effect sizes found decrease, or, because of decreasing support, reported effect sizes decrease.  The oft cited cause of the decline effect are: publication bias, citation bias, methodological bias, and investigator effects.  Part 1 of this series was an example of investigator effects.

Let’s be perfectly clear:  In no case does the decline effect refer to an actual decline in real world effects of some physical phenomena, but only to effect sizes found and/or reported in research reports over time.

One of the best discussions of the decline effect was published in The New Yorker over a decade ago.  In an article titled: “The Truth Wears Off — Is there something wrong with the scientific method?by Jonah Lehrer.  At 2100 words, it is about a 10 minute read – and worth every minute.

The Decline Effect – Part 1: Ocean Acidification

by K. Hansen, Feb 22, 2022 in WUWT

There have been a couple of mentions of the decline effect over the past month, mostly prompted by a recent paper that appeared in  PLOS BIOLOGY  authored by Jeff Clements, Josefin Sundin, Timothy Clark, and Fredrik Jutfelt titled “Meta-analysis reveals an extreme “decline effect” in the impacts of ocean acidification on fish behavior”.

The subject matter of the paper, examining the decline effect in the field of Ocean Acidification (OA), particularly in studies on the effects of OA on fish behavior, is itself interesting.  I have written about OA and OA science many times here at WUWT.

There are two parts to this story about the decline effect.  1)  The specific case of the decline effect in OA studies claimed in the Clements et al. paper.   2)  The general case of the hypothesized causes of the decline effect in the sciences.

This essay will address the first issue:  the decline effect in OA studies.

The decline effect in OA science:

As for the specific OA case,  part of that story, featured in the Clements et al. paper,  has been well-covered by Steve Milloy at JunkScience in his article “Climate fish scare turns out to be just a fish story”.

There are several obvious potential causes of a decline effect in a field. They are: publication bias, citation bias, methodological bias, and investigator effects. 

As part of the review process of the new Clement et al. paper, each of those potential causes was investigated – and all but one were eliminated as a major cause.  It is that last cause that I write about today.

The missing parts in Steve Milloy’s coverage are something that I have written about before and is left under-said Clements et al. (2022):

First, you may recall that Timothy Clark (one of the co-authors of Clements (2022)) and others wrote a paper bluntly titled: “Ocean acidification does not impair the behaviour of coral reef fishes” published Nature in January 2020.

Most Published Studies Exaggerated the Effects of Ocean Acidification – and Covid, Etc.

by J. Marohasy’sBlog, Feb 20, 2022

The concept of ocean acidification, and human-caused global warming more generally, could be described as containing a grain of truth embedded in a mountain of nonsense. Indeed, the projected large increase in atmospheric CO2 will at most cause a small reduction in pH – it will not turn the ocean acidic. Yet this is what is implied by the term ocean acidification. True acidification would require average pH to be reduced below 7.0, at which point seashells would indeed begin to dissolve. This is an impossible scenario, however, because of the ocean’s effectively limitless buffering capacity.

There is a newly published study by Jeff Clements and team that concludes many of the published studies on ocean acidification, especially those studies published in high impact journals and accompanied by sensational media reporting, have turned-out to be wrong, or at least exaggerated.

My colleague Peter Ridd describes the situation:

This problem with exaggeration of threats applies to many areas of science and has a name: The Decline Effect.

The Decline Effect goes like this: an early report, usually attracting huge media interest, predicts some sort of catastrophe. But when follow up work is done, usually with far better experimental procedure and far greater numbers of samples, the original report turns out to be wrong.

Jeff Clements’ team included Timothy Clark, Josefin Sundin and Frederik Jutfelt who were involved in a study last year proving that numerous reports by James Cook University’s coral reef centres on reef fish was totally wrong.

I co-authored a book chapter with John Abbot some years ago that explained:

Doomsday Climate Studies Turn Out To Be Overblown Nonsense

by Washington Are Beacon Staff, Feb 17, 2022  in The WashigntonFreeBeacon

For over a decade, scientists have warned that the acidification of ocean water could decimate fish populations. Acidification changed fish behavior, several studies found, making them less likely to evade predators.

As carbon emissions pushed pH levels higher and higher, climate advocates sounded an apocalyptic tone. Fewer fish would mean fewer fisheries, which would imperil the livelihoods of millions of fishermen across the globe. It could also mean fewer medicines, many of which are derived from marine life.


According to a new paper in a top-ranked biology journal, these concerns are vastly overblown.

The paper, published in PLOS Biology on Feb. 3, reviewed 91 studies of the effect of ocean acidification on fish behavior. It found that better-quality studies tended to find smaller effects on fish behavior—and that the studies with the most dramatic results tended to have low sample size, making them less statistically reliable.

Scientists discover link between climate change and biological evolution of phytoplankton

by Rutgers University, Dec 2, 2021 in WUWT

New Brunswick, N.J. (Dec. 1, 2021) – Using artificial intelligence techniques, an international team that included Rutgers-New Brunswick researchers have traced the evolution of coccolithophores, an ocean-dwelling phytoplankton group, over 2.8 million years.

Their findings, published this week in the journal Nature, reveal new evidence that evolutionary cycles in a marine phytoplankton group are related to changes in tropical seasonality, shedding light on the link between biological evolution and climate change.

Coccolithophores are abundant single-celled organisms that surround themselves with microscopic plates made of calcium carbonate, called coccoliths. Due to their photosynthetic activity, mineral production and widespread abundance throughout the world’s oceans, coccolithophores play an important role in the carbon cycle.

Scientists have long thought that climate changes’ effects on plants, animals and other organisms occur in cycles, which are reversed when each cycle is completed, thus erasing any small evolutionary changes during each cycle. In contrast, evolutionary changes, as known from the fossil record, are non-cyclic trends that occur over millions of years.

Record Coral Cover Of Great Barrier Reef Shames Climate Alarmists, Media

by P. Ridd, July 23, 2021 in WUWT

The annual data on coral cover for the Great Barrier Reef, produced by the Australian Institute of Marine Science, was released on Monday showing the amount of coral on the reef is at record high levels.

Record high, despite all the doom stories by our reef science and management institutions.

Like all other data on the reef, this shows it is in robust health. For example, coral growth rates have, if anything, increased over the past 100 years, and measurements of farm pesticides reaching the reef show levels so low that they cannot be detected with the most ultra-sensitive equipment.

This data is good news. It could hardly be better. But somehow, our science organizations have convinced the world that the reef is on its last legs. How has this happened?

Fishy Business: Alleged Fraud over Ocean Acidification Research, Reversal on Coral Extinction

by R. Alexander, June 28, 2021 in ScienceUnderAttack

In the news recently have been two revelations about the sometimes controversial world of coral reef research. The first is fraud allegations against research claiming that ocean acidification from global warming impairs the behavior of coral reef fish. The second is an about-face on inflated estimates for the extinction risk of Pacific Ocean coral species due to climate change.

The alleged fraud involves 22 research papers authored by Philip Munday, a marine ecologist at JCU (James Cook University) in Townsville, Australia and Danielle Dixson, a U.S. biologist who completed her PhD under Munday’s supervision in 2012. The fraud charges were made in August 2020 by three of an international group of mostly biological and environmental scientists, plus the group leader, fish physiologist Timothy Clark of Deakin University in Geelong, Australia. The Clark group says it will publicize the alleged data problems shortly.

The research in question studied the behavior of coral reef fish in slightly acidified seawater, in order to simulate the effect of ocean acidification caused by the absorption of up to 30% of humanity’s CO2 emissions. The additional CO2 has so far lowered the average pH – a measure of acidity – of ocean surface water from about 8.2 to 8.1 since industrialization began in the 18th century.

Munday and Dixson claim that the extra CO2 causes reef fish to be attracted by chemical cues from predators, instead of avoiding them; to become hyperactive and disoriented; and to suffer loss of vision and hearing. But Clark and his fellow scientists, in their own paper published in January 2020, debunk all of these conclusions. Most damningly of all, the researchers find that the reported effects of ocean acidification on the behavior of coral reef fish are not reproducible – the basis for their fraud allegations against the JCU work.

Does ocean acidification alter fish behavior? Fraud allegations create a sea of doubt

by P. Homewood, May 7, 2021 in NotaLotofPeopleKnowThat

When Philip Munday discussed his research on ocean acidification with more than 70 colleagues and students in a December 2020 Zoom meeting, he wasn’t just giving a confident overview of a decade’s worth of science. Munday, a marine ecologist at James Cook University (JCU), Townsville, was speaking to defend his scientific legacy.

But their work has come under attack. In January 2020, a group of seven young scientists, led by fish physiologist Timothy Clark of Deakin University in Geelong, Australia, published a Nature paper reporting that in a massive, 3-year study, they didn’t see these dramatic effects of acidification on fish behavior at all.

Volcanic eruptions directly triggered ocean acidification during Early Cretaceous

by Northwestern University, Dec 21, 2020 in ScienceDaily

Around 120 million years ago, the earth experienced an extreme environmental disruption that choked oxygen from its oceans.

Known as oceanic anoxic event (OAE) 1a, the oxygen-deprived water led to a minor — but significant — mass extinction that affected the entire globe. During this age in the Early Cretaceous Period, an entire family of sea-dwelling nannoplankton virtually disappeared.

By measuring calcium and strontium isotope abundances in nannoplankton fossils, Northwestern earth scientists have concluded the eruption of the Ontong Java Plateau large igneous province (LIP) directly triggered OAE1a. Roughly the size of Alaska, the Ontong Java LIP erupted for seven million years, making it one of the largest known LIP events ever. During this time, it spewed tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, pushing Earth into a greenhouse period that acidified seawater and suffocated the oceans.

Peter Ridd: It’s the science that’s rotten, not the Great Barrier Reef

by P. Homewood, Dec 7, 2020 in NotaLotofPeopleKnowThat


The International Union for Conservation of Nature has released its latest report on the state of the Great Barrier Reef. It has turned up the volume by one notch, claiming the threat to the reef has gone from “significant concern” to “critical”. It blames climate change, agricultural pollution, coastal development, industry, mining, shipping, overfishing, disease, problematic native species, coal dust — you name it, it is killing the reef.

But the report is just a rehash of old, mostly wrong or misleading information produced by generally untrustworthy scientific institutions with an activist agenda and no commitment to quality assurance.

It is remarkable that the world has been convinced that one of its most pristine ecosystems is on its last legs. Part of the problem is that, being underwater and a long way from the coast, very few people visit the reef. The truth is hidden. Those of us in North Queensland living adjacent to the reef, and tourists from elsewhere, can report the water is iridescent clear blue and totally unpolluted. The fish and coral are fabulous.

Measuring Old Corals & Coral Reefs (Part 1)

by J. Marohasy, Nov 29, 2020 in WUWT

Fundamental to science is measurement. It is a way of objectively assessing something, anything, even the state of a coral reef, even of an individual coral. Historically coral growth rates were measured by coring the really old massive Porites.

Like tree rings in temperate forests, the massive old Porites can be cored to see the banding and from this it is possible to calculate coral calcification rates which are a measure of the growth rate of individual corals.

Peter Ridd has been asking for some quality assurance of so many of the measurements relating to Great Barrier Reef health, including coral growth rates. Key Australian institutions have responded by stonewalling, and in the case of James Cook University, actually sacking him. After two rounds in the federal courts his appeal against his dismissal is finally going to the High Court of Australia, with the next hearing probably in February 2021. While the lawyers are preoccupied with Peter’s rights, or otherwise, to academic freedom and freedom of speech, my concern is whether Peter is actually telling the truth when he says that the Great Barrier Reef is resilient and definitely not dying from coral bleaching, though there is a problem with the integrity of the science.


Half the Reef destroyed but they won’t release the data

by JoNova, Oct 16, 2020

The future of the entire 350,000 km2 Great Barrier Reef hangs in the balance — as the coralapocalypse has wiped out 50% of the coral in just 25 years. Lordy! If only we’d built some off-shore wind farms on the reef to protect it! We could cover whole islands with solar panels? What are we thinking!

But as Peter Ridd points out, AIMS (The Australian Institute of Marine Science) surveys around 100 reefs every year — and for the last 35 years — and they find things are roughly the same. See the graph below.

Somehow Terry Hughes — and the Centre of Excellence for Integrated Coral Reef Studies — gets up to $4 million each year to report on the reef but won’t release the data behind the mass media campaign.

The ABC — which gets nearly $3 million dollars every single day — can’t even pick up the phone to interview AIMS or Peter Ridd and ask one hard question of Terry Hughes’ “Excellent” centre. (We all know why they had to put the word “excellence” in the title, it was the only way the word would ever be used to describe an activist group pretending to be scientists.)

And we all know that if anyone at James Cook University (JCU) has any doubts about the quality of the output from the “Excellent” centre they won’t be saying a word or they’ll get sacked like Peter Ridd did.

JCU — still supporting junk science and ignoring that other case of potential fraud?


by Cap Allon, Sep 26, 2020 in Electroverse

Since 1850 Earth’s magnetic field has been weakening. At the turn of the millennium it then began reducing exponentially, at more than 10% per decade — this drop off is extreme and concerning, and here’s why.

Earth’s magnetic field protects us from space radiation. Our shields going down is very bad news for all life on our planet, and could possibly even lead to the next mass extinction.

“As the magnetic field weakens, the poles shift,” says David Mauriello of the ORP and MRN. For the past 100-or-so years, both north and south poles have been rapidly headed towards the equator (shown below), and their pace is increasing, warns Mauriello. The south pole is now off the Antarctic continent and making a beeline for Indonesia, and the north pole is shifting across the Arctic circle towards Siberia, it too headed for Indonesia–where the pair are likely to meet within the next few decades, perhaps around 2050.

This “meeting” will lead to one of two eventualities: 1) a full flip will take place (aka a “reversal” where the magnetic poles switch places), or 2) a “snap-back” will occur where the poles quickly return to their original starting points (aka an “excursion”).

Claim: Ocean acidification causing coral ‘osteoporosis’ on iconic reefs


Scientists have long suspected that ocean acidification is affecting corals’ ability to build their skeletons, but it has been challenging to isolate its effect from that of simultaneous warming ocean temperatures, which also influence coral growth. New research from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) reveals the distinct impact that ocean acidification is having on coral growth on some of the world’s iconic reefs.



In a paper published Aug. 27, 2020, in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, researchers show a significant reduction in the density of coral skeleton along much of the Great Barrier Reef–the world’s largest coral reef system–and also on two reefs in the South China Sea, which they attribute largely to the increasing acidity of the waters surrounding these reefs since 1950.

“This is the first unambiguous detection and attribution of ocean acidification’s impact on coral growth,” says lead author and WHOI scientist Weifu Guo. “Our study presents strong evidence that 20th century ocean acidification, exacerbated by reef biogeochemical processes, had measurable effects on the growth of a keystone reef-building coral species across the Great Barrier Reef and in the South China Sea. These effects will likely accelerate as ocean acidification progresses over the next several decades.”

Roughly a third of global carbon dioxide emissions are absorbed by the ocean, causing an average 0.1 unit decline in seawater pH since the pre-industrial era. This phenomenon, known as ocean acidification, has led to a 20 percent decrease in the concentration of carbonate ions in seawater. Animals that rely on calcium carbonate to create their skeletons, such as corals, are at risk as ocean pH continues to decline. Ocean acidification targets the density of the skeleton, silently whittling away at the coral’s strength, much like osteoporosis weakens bones in humans.

Acid Oceans? & Oyster Shells

by Jim Steele, July 14, 2020 in WUWT

(I wrote a white paper for the CO2  Coalition, providing more details and references to peer reviewed science regards how marine life counteracts ocean acidification. That paper can be downloaded here )

Search the internet for “acid oceans” and you’ll find millions of articles suggesting the oceans are becoming more corrosive due the burning of fossil fuels, and “acid oceans” are threatening marine life. Although climate modelers constantly claim the oceans’ surface pH has dropped since the 1800s, that change was never measured, as the concept of pH was not created until the early 1900s by beer-makers.

In 2003 Stanford’s Dr. Ken Caldeira coined the term “ocean acidification” to generate public concern about increasing CO2  . As New Yorker journalist Elizabeth Kolbert reported, “Caldeira told me that he had chosen the term ‘ocean acidification’ quite deliberately for its shock value. Seawater is naturally alkaline, with a pH ranging from 7.8 to 8.5—a pH of 7 is neutral—which means that, for now, at least, the oceans are still a long way from actually turning acidic.” Nonetheless Caldeira’s term “ocean acidification” evoked such undue fears and misunderstandings, we are constantly bombarded with catastrophic media hype and misdiagnosed causes of natural change.

For example, for nearly a decade the media has hyped the 2006-2008 die-off of larval oysters in hatcheries along Washington and Oregon. They called it a crisis caused by rising atmospheric CO2  and the only solution was to stop burning fossil fuels. But it was an understanding of natural pH changes that provided the correct solutions. Subsurface waters at a few hundred meters depth naturally contain greater concentrations CO2  and nutrients and a lower pH than surface waters. Changes in the winds and currents periodically bring those waters to the surface in a process called upwelling. Upwelling promotes a burst of life but also lowers the surface water pH.  Not fully aware of all the CO2  dynamics, the hatcheries had made 3 mistakes.

Extensive hake (fish) skeletal remains in ocean waters too cold for this species to occupy today suggest past ocean temperatures were several degrees warmer.

by Wheeland & Morgan, July 2020 in NoTricksZone

Fish habitats are limited by specific temperature boundaries. In a new study, for example,  Wheeland  and Morgan (2020) found there was a pronounced ocean warming from the 1980s to late 1990s off the coasts of Greenland. This temperature shift changed the distribution of halibut habitat. Since then, however, there has been no net warming in the study region (through 2016).

When Exposed To Natural, Long-Term Extreme ‘Ocean Acidification’, Coral And Urchin ‘Persist’ And Even ‘Thrive’

by K. Richard, June 29, 2020 in NoTricksZone

Marine species subjected to high CO2 extremes – 8,891 to 95,000 ppm – in their natural environments may not be adversely affected. They may even “thrive”.

Earlier this year we highlighted a study that says coral reefs “thrive” near seafloor volcanic vents where CO2 concentrations reach 60,000 to 95,000 ppm.

Urchins basking in volcanic vent streams of 8,891 ppm CO2 and daily CO2 variations of more than 2,000 ppm as well as day-to-day pH fluctuations ranging from 6.9 (“acidification”) to 8.1…grow more than two times faster than nearby control (stable 394 ppm CO2, 8.1 pH) urchins (Uthicke et al., 2016).

CO2 Not A Threat To Oceans

by Dr. J. Lehr, June 26, 2020 in ClimateChangDispatch

For the past three decades, the public has been taught by the news media and the folks who make a living composing mathematical equations they claim to simulate how our planet’s climate operates, that our oceans are in jeopardy.

They have all told you one of the biggest falsehoods in human history.

They say that carbon dioxide, the only reason man can inhabit Earth, is causing the planet to heat up to a dangerous level and the oceans will become unlivable for marine life.

There is no proof of these lies whatever. Civilization has generally been most prosperous under warmer than colder conditions.

The Ocean acidificationfrom carbon dioxide emissions preached by the scaremongers would require an impossible ten-fold decrease in the alkalinity of surface waters.

Even if atmospheric CO2 concentrations triple from todays four percent of one percent, which would take about 600 years, todays surface pH of 8.2 would plateau at 7.8, still well above neutral 7.

Ocean health has improved as a result of greater CO2, as it feeds phytoplankton that stimulates the ocean’s food chain.

CO2 allows phytoplankton such as algae, bacteria, and seaweed to feed the rest of the open ocean food chain. As carbon dioxide moves through this food web, much of it sinks or is transported away from the surface.

A high surface pH allows the ocean to store 50 times more CO2 than the atmosphere. Digestion of carbon at lower depths allows for storage there for centuries.

Study: As Sea Levels Rise, Island ‘Drowning’ Is Not Inevitable

by A. Williams, June12, 2020 in ClimateChangeDispatch

Coral reef islands across the world could naturally adapt to survive the impact of rising sea levels, according to new research.

The increased flooding caused by the changing global climate has been predicted to render such communities – where sandy or gravel islands sit on top of coral reef platforms – uninhabitable within decades.

However, an international study led by the University of Plymouth (UK) suggests that perceived fate is far from a foregone conclusion.

The research, published in Science Advances, for the first time uses numerical modeling of island morphology alongside physical model experiments to simulate how reef islands – which provide the only habitable land in atoll nations – can respond when sea levels rise.

Podcast: Why the Oceans Really Aren’t “Acidifying” but the Term Is Being Abused by Science and Media

by A. Watts, June 11, 2020 in WUWT

Science and media outlets claim ocean acidification is happening due to increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. But objective data show the ocean is far from acidic according to Dr. Caleb Rossiter, executive director of the CO2 Coalition and a statistician who has studied climate change closely.

Host Anthony Watts and Rossiter talk about how a pH of 7 is considered neutral, with anything below 7 considered acidic. Ocean pH averages 8.1, which is alkaline rather than acidic. Although climate models suggest the ocean’s surface pH may have dropped from pH 8.2 to 8.1 since 1750, that change was never actually measured.

The pH drop from 1850 is merely a modeled conjecture. The concept of pH was first introduced by in 1909, and agriculturalists first developed field instruments to measure pH in the 1930s.

Tiny plankton drive processes in the ocean that capture twice as much carbon as scientists though

by K. Buesseler, May 2020 in TheConversion

The big idea

The ocean plays a major role in the global carbon cycle. The driving force comes from tiny plankton that produce organic carbon through photosynthesis, like plants on land.

When plankton die or are consumed, a set of processes known as the biological carbon pump carries sinking particles of carbon from the surface to the deep ocean in a process known as marine snowfall. Naturalist and writer Rachel Carson called it the “most stupendous snowfall on Earth.”

Some of this carbon is consumed by sea life, and a portion is chemically broken down. Much of it is carried to deep waters, where it can remain for hundreds to thousands of years. If the deep oceans didn’t store so much carbon, the Earth would be even warmer than it is today.

What still isn’t known

Our study reveals that scientists need to use using a more systematic approach to defining the ocean’s vertical boundaries for organic carbon production and loss. This finding is timely, because the international oceanographic community is calling for more and better studies of the biological carbon pump and the ocean twilight zone.

The twilight zone could be profoundly affected if nations seek to develop new midwater fisheries, mine the seafloor for minerals or use it as a dumping ground for waste. Scientists are forming a collaborative effort called the Joint Exploration of the Twilight Zone Ocean Network, or JETZON, to set research priorities, promote new technologies and better coordinate twilight zone studies.

To compare these studies, researchers need a common set of metrics. For the biological carbon pump, we need to better understand how big this flow of carbon is, and how efficiently it is transported into deeper water for long-term storage. These processes will affect how Earth responds to rising greenhouse gas emissions and the warming they cause.

Reefs’ Neon Colors A Defense Against Coral Bleaching

by B. Bruno,  May 22, 2020 in ClimateChangeDispatch

Some coral reefs are adapting to warming ocean temperatures by making their own sunscreen in the form of bright neon colors — a strategy that invites coral animals to return to reefs and is seen as a critical adaptation to maintain healthy coral reefs around the world.

In a study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology, researchers at the University of Southampton detail a series of controlled laboratory experiments they conducted at their coral aquarium facility.

In the experiments, “colorful” coral bleaching events cause coral to produce a layer of vibrant sunscreen which encourages the coral animals vital to a mutually beneficial “symbiosis” relationship to return to coral habitats they abandon due to the effects of warming oceans.

The colorful adaptation could prove vital for overcoming the fatal coral bleaching incidents that have threatened coral reefs worldwide.

But the colorful coral bleaching – rather than the white skeleton exposure of common coral bleaching events – is believed to take place due to mild ocean warming or disturbances in their nutrient environment, rather than extreme events.

Colorful bleaching occurred between this past March and April in some areas of the Great Barrier Reef, suggesting some patches of the world’s largest reef system may have better recovery prospects than others.

Influence of landscape structure on local and regional climate

by RA. Pielke and R. Avissar, 1990 in LandscapeEcology


This paper discusses the physical linkage between the surface and the atmosphere, and demonstrates how even slight changes in surface conditions can have a pronounced effect on weather and climate. Observational and modeling evidence are presented to demonstrate the influence of landscape type on the overlying atmospheric conditions. The albedo, and the fractional partitioning of atmospheric turbulent heat flux into sensible and latent fluxes is shown to be particularly important in directly affecting local and regional weather and climate. It is concluded that adequate assessment of global climate and climate change cannot be achieved unless mesoscale landscape characteristics and their changes over time can be accurately determined.